We Hear You: Bernie Sanders, Religious Freedom, and Fake News

Editor’s note: What could be more appropriate this Fourth of July weekend than to round up some audience comments on basic American freedoms such as freedom of  religion, speech, and the press? Happy Independence Day.—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: There is a disconnect in the statement Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., put on his Senate website after questioning  Trump administration nominee Russell Vought about Christian doctrine during his confirmation hearing, the subject of Daniel Davis’ commentary (“Bernie Shows the Left’s Refusal to Coexist With Traditional Believers“).

Sanders wrote: “In a democratic society, founded on the principle of religious freedom, we can all disagree over issues, but racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”

Religious belief is not racism or bigotry. As for Christianity, it is open to all. Christians do not condemn; Almighty God does. Christians try to point people to how to avoid eternal condemnation.

As for Sanders himself: His is the faith of nihilism and hedonistic humanism. He has never produced anything and has spent his career as an antagonistic destroyer. He has lived his life on the government teat—first as a welfare slob, now as a career politico dedicated to destroying the Constitution and institutions that made this country great.—Marianne Morton


In his formal statement after the hearing, Sanders said: “In a democratic society, founded on the principle of religious freedom, we can all disagree over issues, but racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”

Seems to me, Sanders put out that statement because he knew he was out of line in giving that religious test to Russell Vought. But his statement is wrong on more than one count:

—We are not a democracy; we are a republic. Every officeholder needs to know the difference.

—Disagreement about who knows God or who is condemned has nothing to do with the overly misused words “racism” and “bigotry,” which connote hate.

—Vought was not condemning anyone. He simply stated his belief that certain people stand condemned. He didn’t say by whom or to what.

Perhaps the reason Sanders can’t fathom true religious coexistence in the midst of deep disagreement is that he’s projecting onto others his intolerance of people who disagree with him. He’s shown his intolerance very clearly, not only in that encounter, but every time I’ve heard him speak.—Jeffrey Moore

I see two issues with Bernie Sanders’ remarks [on the Christian doctrine of salvation] during the Senate confirmation hearing of Russell Vought for deputy director of the federal Office of Management and Budget:

—Sanders’ theological line of questions and comments were unconstitutional (see Article VI) and thus inappropriate. Vought, having been associated with The Heritage Foundation, should have been better prepared and called Sanders out, not allowing himself to be drawn into a theological exchange.

—Given that Vought chose to engage the discussion, he should have been clear on Christian orthodoxy. God deals with humanity on the basis of two men: The first Adam and the last Adam, who is Christ. All humanity, by reason of birth, shares the legal standing of the first Adam and stands “condemned already.”

Thus, Romans 5:18 in the Bible says, with my parenthetical clarifications: Consequently, just as condemnation for all people (humanity) came through one transgression (the first Adam’s), so too through the one righteous act (of the last Adam) came righteousness leading to life for all people (who believe).—Dan R. Smedra


What was being asked by Sanders of Vought was if he would use his position to discriminate against those of other faiths, and is it his belief that those of other faiths are viewed as unworthy in his eyes. There are words published by Vought previously that uphold those points and so warrant the line of questioning by Sanders.—William Robert


Regarding Rachel del Guidice’s story on the petition regarding Bernie Sanders (“50,000 Ask Bernie Sandeers to Apologize for Attack on Trump Nominee’s Faith“), it is illogical and prejudicial to take a person’s belief about the afterlife and draw a straight line between it and a future action.

To do this involves mind-reading and the predicting of future behavior, which is impossible. It denies the individual their own use of their mental processes and their rights of freedom of conscience and self-determination.

People have reason, intellect, and free will, and they have a conscience. They all work together to interpret their beliefs and translate them into action. The final outcome of this process is behavior, and behavior is the only way by which one person may judge another.

This is why Sanders was both wrong and ridiculous to do what he did. Sanders took a belief of Vought’s and, without any evidence, claimed it would make him act in a negative way in the future. In the end, Sanders used this prejudicial and fallacious reasoning to vote and to influence others to voters to deny Vought a job.—Fides et Ratio


No person must be held to a religious test to hold public office. Russ Vought very loudly and openly does that for himself. Bernie Sanders does not approve of that. Many of us libertarians and progressives don’t either. Vought is a proud Christian proselytizer. That owns no place in our government.—John Kominitsky


The No. 1 tenet of Christianity is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is why Christians built the first hospitals, for all. The first schools, for all. The first mental institutions, for all. Christian nations were the first ones to outlaw slavery.

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Yes, like all religions we think we’re right, but we are a most tolerant religion. What Islamic nation takes in Muslims, Jews, and Christians like Western nations do? Neither Japan nor China takes in refugees, either.

So, Bernie, I do not care about an apology, but I would like you to set the record straight about your bigotry.—Douglas Crosby

Regarding Tony Perkins’ commentary, there seems to be no filter on the left as far as constitutional rights are concerned (“Trump Nominee Not Hindered by Bernie Sanders’ Religious Test“).

If they can get their base to run in circles screaming, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” then they feel like they have accomplished their socialist mission. Such a joke to real citizens.—Rich Newhouse


Funny, Sanders had no problem with the plethora of Muslims in the Obama administration. Muslims who also believe that anyone who does not convert to Islam is going to hell and must either convert or be killed. Muslims who also believe marriage is between men and women. The left’s bigotry and hypocrisy is epic.—Robert Mulligan


The Constitution makes no distinction between religious belief or lack of belief. Whether Christianity, atheism, or Shintoism—all are created equal. Neither  Sanders’ bigotry nor anyone else’s is relevant. I’m not a believer, but neither am I a judge of the faith of others.—J. Earl Sumner


What I gathered from the senator’s unconstitutional questioning is that Bernie Sanders should not be in any public office.—Irene Hansen


Religion shouldn’t have been brought up during that confirmation hearing. Sanders was totally out of line, and Vought should have kept his religious views to himself.

All Vought needed to say was: “I believe in separation of church and state and don’t see what a discussion of my religious views has to do with economics. Can we stick to economics, please, Sen. Sanders?”—Cheryl Lupkes

Disclosure: Russ Vought’s wife, Mary Vought, works for The Heritage Foundation, the parent organization of The Daily Signal. Russ Vought formerly was employed by Heritage Action for America, the think tank’s lobbying affiliate.

The Facts of That Dustup in the Texas Legislature

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Merrie Spaeth’s commentary (“This Altercation in Texas Exposes the Heart of Fake News“): Unfortunately for us, what is deemed as journalism today often is nothing more than propaganda, which is defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

I’m not entirely sure it is possible for journalists to not insert personal beliefs into what they produce, but at one time, there was a sincere effort to provide just the facts. When writers produced something that was slanted, editors called it to their attention and had them rewrite the copy.

Now the consumer must be informed to discern truth from fiction. What is printed or appears in video is not always the truth, but is simply information. Informed minds must interpret what is being presented.—Tony Lewis


Thank you, Merrie Spaeth, for this great piece. The public needs to know this stuff. Most will just believe what the Dallas Morning News reported and what we heard in the mainstream media.—Bob Trento


What stuck out to me about the statement by the reporter is that there was no proof the state representative didn’t say he would put a bullet in another legislator’s head. That scares the hell out of me as to the present and future free press in our nation.—Terry Arnold


Investigative journalism died long ago. It is so easy for reporters to copy one another, speculate, and enhance for dramatic effect, especially with headlines. It is not uncommon to be attracted to a headline, read the story, and find the headline was stretched just to get your attention.

The press and broadcast news services have hit new lows and seem to be in a death spiral. The savvy news seeker knows how to glean news from different sources with no need for the mainstream press any longer.—Steve Zawoyski

Merrie Spaeth’s article was well written and spot on. I have for a long time known the press was dishonest and unreliable. In the late 1980s, I was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and I was a member of the First Baptist Church in Junction City, Kansas.

Churches all over the state were participating in a pro-life rally, I believe in Wichita. The pro-abortion crowd decided to hold a counter-rally. Thousands attended the pro-life rally. Church members who attended stated it was huge. The pro-abortion crowd, even after bringing in out-of-state people, had maybe 200.

CBS, NBC, and the other TV networks showed pictures from a distance of the pro-life crowd and reported it was pro-abortion, and showed pictures from a distance of the small pro-abortion crowd and said it was the pro-life rally. People were up in arms over the lie, and the media said they just made a mistake and let it go.

But the lie still went out to many people who believed it, not knowing the truth. I watched the TV news myself and knew it was untrue. I was listening to coverage from Christian radio out of Topeka that made it quite clear about the size of the crowds.

You folks are on the right track, and I am sure thousands of examples have occurred over the years.  “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” (Matthew 7:16 NASB).—Jeff Davis

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I agree with all the items in the opening of Merrie Spaeth’s commentary. However, I would add that the deliberate use of descriptors or phrases intended to slant a reader’s context of the information, or the conscious selection of adjectives intended to stir particular emotions in the reader, followed by parsing of sentences to establish what was never in the original verbiage, also contribute to fake news.

Meanwhile, to influence viewers, the visual media use heavy sighs, eye-rolling, an emphasis on particular words or phrases, and just plain old body language.—Spencer L. Poston


Why does the word “biased” feel like a pejorative? All of us who observe the news, write the news, read the news, report the news, and opine relative to what we observe, read, and hear about the news are human, which means we bring our own values and attitudes to the news.

Of course the news is biased. It couldn’t be otherwise.

The best of us know that and think critically as we read and listen to the news. The worst of us complain. We all have the opportunity to decide if we are among the best or the worst.—Leif Fearn


Was the original Dallas Morning News story slanted? Maybe. But did it include all the relevant facts? Yes.

Fake news includes articles that report the size of the crowd at President Trump’s inaugural was larger than President Obama’s. Fake news purports the Paris climate agreement will cause the United States to lose jobs. Fake news professes that burning fossil fuels won’t negatively affect the environment.

Fake news claims that illegals get Medicaid or Social Security. Fake news calls Barack Obama a Muslim or not a natural-born citizen. Fake news proclaims Mexico will pay for a wall.—David Bogolub


Biased reporting is the norm—biased to the left, that is.—Jude Mande


Merrie Spaeth’s commentary about fake news is fascinating. Her argument regarding the media reports is exactly what she is complaining about. She uses hearsay, no references, no audio or video to support her allegations.—Al Pedwaydon


About two decades ago, the executive editor of a major newspaper chain was speaking to a Journalism 101 class about the way selective reporting can create public opinion. He said reporters did so all the time.

Often broadcast media makes reference to several newspapers endorsing a candidate. In the last election, it made national news that the Arizona Republic endorsed Hillary Clinton. The next day USA Today made the same endorsement, which also made news.

The reality: Gannett News Corp. owns both papers (and smaller ones all over the land, which likewise endorsed Clinton). The Republic endorsed on a Sunday; USA Today doesn’t publish on Sunday, so it did so on Monday.

Yet major newscasters reported that two leading papers endorsed the same candidate, implying a trend. It’s unlikely the general public knew that the endorsement order came from headquarters in Rochester, New York, and not from Phoenix, Arizona, or Las Cruces, New Mexico—or any other editor at numerous local papers.

Similar situations happen all the time. There are media executives who make such decisions and their minions follow the boss. The few high-­­­rollers who own newspaper companies in this land set the tone for public opinion in their fiefdoms. Such is the media swamp we are dealing with.—Gerald Eberwein


Fake news to me is when reporters twist, distort, and manipulate words to suit their liberal narrative. It happens every day.—Virginia Murrell


If the goal is to call out fake news, why protect the identity of the fake journalist?—John Berry

Why do we allow this corruption, under the guise of a free press? The people are also free but we can’t commit fraud. We can’t break U.S. law. We can’t file a false report, which is what the media does intentionally.—Anthony Alfero


Over the past 50 years, I have been personally involved in a variety of events that were covered by local or national news outlets. In every case—I repeat, every case—the reportage was substantially and factually wrong, either by omission of important facts, or by reporting unsubstantiated events that never occurred.

Think about that.

Further, on those occasions when I communicated with media outlets about their errors, no corrections or retractions followed. As far as I can see, news primarily is designed and edited to sell advertising or a political point of view rather than report events accurately.—Geoffrey Meade


It is time for the media to be held accountable for their reporting. A few multimillion-dollar lawsuits for slander likely would cause the media to carefully vet their sources for accuracy before they publish or report them.

Nonprint media such as television and radio fall under the Federal Communications Commission and should have their licenses revoked or suspended for terms of not less than 90 days for reporting inaccurate or biased stories.

While the FCC investigates such stories, those media outlets should at least have their news divisions suspended—which would send a message to the media that anything biased or inaccurate would no longer be tolerated.—R. Jeffrey Savlov

Another Downside to the Minimum Wage

Dear Daily Signal: I’m enjoying your research and articles about the (predictable) effects of large increases in the minimum wage. But your reports largely ignore one of the worst effects: the resulting salary compression that drives up a company’s employee costs far more than average Americans realize.

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These large, and predictably problematic,  increases in minimum wages cause all of a company’s salaries to increase by rippling the effect all up the salary structure. No one with longevity and experience making $15 an hour before the minimum wage increase will tolerate earning the same amount after everyone below him or her with little or no experience begins making the same amount. So their salary must increase too.

Likewise when their salaries increase, those above them will have the same problem. So, an increase in minimum wage causes wages to be increased throughout a company or business. Companies’ salaries expense skyrockets and profits decrease and people are fired at a much higher rate than if only those below the minimum wage had gotten a pay increase.

Salary compression driven by minimum wage increases rockets through a company’s structure and is a huge impact to its bottom line. A huge percentage of Americans would stop supporting such large minimum wage increases if they knew the actual effects.

That The Daily Signal doesn’t give this the attention it’s due is a serious reporting and education shortcoming. In a way it’s dishonest not to ensure people know this effect on businesses and jobs.—Dennis Olds

Trump, Congress, and Investigations

Dear Daily Signal: President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should turn the tables on the Democrats in all of these investigations.  We also need to force the Republican leadership to act like leaders and put a halt to all this crap.

There should be an investigation into the collusion of the Democrats and the media in cheating during the election debates. Any federal voting law violations? Do what they do, allege it!

Look into George Soros and his friends that fund all the hoodlums that riot and cause so many problems. Must be violations there of inciting riots, encouraging looting and property destruction.

President Obama’s spying on U.S. citizens, then spreading it all over the place with his executive order. Violation of law.

President Trump should be aiming all this at the millennials. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps there has been a conspiracy to throw wrenches in the government gears with illegal leaking, false allegations, and so on.

The Kathy Griffin madness and the Shakespeare play in Central Park are what leads to shootings like the June 14 attack on Republican members of Congress today. The blame is right at their feet. Chuck Schumer should be investigated.

Start pushing back. We have had it out here.—John M. McLaughlin Jr.


I suggest the Trump administration replicate National Public Radio with a Voice of America produced by independent people, the unbiased, truth-seeking silent majority of citizens who are being short-changed by media news and entertainment. These outlets “don’t get it” and are ruining the America for which our forefathers fought.—Christian Zimmermann


Why is the supposed Trump/Russia collusion being compared to Watergate? I thought Watergate was President Nixon and his White House team being accused of bugging the Democrats or his opponents and people Nixon was afraid of.  Didn’t Nixon also use the IRS and FBI and CIA to investigate his opponents?

Why is no one comparing what the Obama administration was allegedly involved in to Watergate?  Wiretapping President-elect Trump, listening to private conversations, “unmasking” innocent people, and of course the infamous IRS going after tea party groups.

I would say the Obama administration has more in common with Watergate then the Trump administration, period.  It all about surveilling and bugging.  Anyone? Anyone?—Carol Chizzolin, Roswell, Ga. 


Why isn’t Congress pushing repeal of the restrictions against interstate sale of health insurance?  Why hasn’t Congress addressed pricing for interstate big pharma?  The swamp rats are everywhere in Congress.—Chris Kastner

How Are We Doing?

Dear Daily Signal: You are doing very well, and I have no difficulty defending you from critics.  At times you have me wondering. It would seem to me that you might express some gratitude for the time we spend following you.

My main pet peeve with the press is that folks put great thought in comments. Yes, there are many, but you must actually be brain dead to not glean them for the value that some surely must have.

Yes, it takes time, but what if we did not take the time to read The Daily Signal? I am 84, but loyal.  The Daily Signal? Yes!—Warren Pugh


First, I love The Daily Signal. Thank you. To stop those inside and outside of Hollywood  using threatening speech, including words referencing harm or assignation toward the president or others in office, win  lose, or draw I would love to see the Justice Department indict. Why not? Indict one or two of them and it would stop. Maybe someone could ask our attorney general.—Randall Stevens


Excellent job.—John Norwood


The Daily Signal is the first thing I read, and most times the only thing I read, for news. I wake up, grab my phone, and read. Thank you.—Doris M.


Excellent reporting, thank you.—Edward Gonzales


Very interesting read. Well done.—Irene Hansen


Thank you for your heart to reflect the truth and honor integrity.— Polly Eckert

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